Broad Ripple, IN Gas Explosion, Sep 1897

FRIGHTFUL EXECUTION.

DONE BY AN EXPLOSION OF NATURAL GAS IN A SUBURB OF THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS.

SIX OF THE VICTIMS ARE DEAD.

THREE OF THEM HAVING BEEN LITERALLY ROASTED ALIVE WHILE PENNID IN THE WRECK OF A DEMOLISHED BUILDING -- FORTY OTHERS INJURED, OF WHOM MORE THAN A SCORE ARE SEVERELY HURT AND SEVERAL MAY DIE -- LIST OF THE UNFORTUNATES.

Indianapolis, Sept. 6. -- Broad Ripple, a suburb of Indianapolis, ten miles from the city proper, was Saturday morning the scene of one of the most terrible disasters that has ever visited the state. Six persons were hurried to death and thirty are lying in the homes of neighbors, burned, scarred and racked with pain from broken bones. Four buildings occupying a block of the town are in ruins. Of the six dead nothing but charred and blackened bones with hanging strips of foul smelling flesh remain. At 10 o'clock a foul odor was noticed in the drug store of J. M. WATTS, and a lamp in a dark room used for amateur photography went out. It was lighted, and as the burning match was thrown to the floor streaks of flame of a bluish tint ran along the joints between the boards, showing the presence of escaping natural gas -- and then up the walls.
The next instant the explosion came. The walls were hurled in every direction, and the top of the building fell with a crunching, grinding sound, covering all. The ruins were burning immediately, and shrieks could be heard from those buried beneath. Of the seven persons in the building three were buried alive. The rest are still alive and may recover. A hundred persons were at work on the ruins and trying to save GRESH'S grocery adjoining, and pulling at the ruins to save those buried beneath. While thus engaged, and twenty minutes after the first explosion, the second came from beneath the grocery with a mighty roar, and hurled the building to atoms. Forty people were knocked senseless, strewn in all directions with broken bones and burned bodies, while many more escaped with small bruises. This shock made the whole town quiver.
Beneath these ruins PIUS GRESH, the groceryman, was caught and crushed to death. His body was recovered before it was entirely burned. The ruins were added to those of the building adjoining, demolished by the first explosion, and the whole mass, together with an adjoining frame cottage and a livery stable, was burned to ashes, only the bucket brigade being on hand in time to do any good, and it is probable that the work only prolonged the agony of the victims who were burned. The disaster was caused by natural gas leading into the cellars of the buildings from a three-inch main that ran in the street, from which the houses were supplied.

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